Public Relations Practice In Local Government A Case Study Of Mabaitoli Local Government
Groups of people made of males and females families including the in the village, towns and cities working and doing things with one another form the society. In public Relations practice, take (Mbaitoli Local Government in Imo State as a case study) people both employees and the employer would want to work in peace among themselves and solve the problems which they have . That is, they maintains public goodwill among his employees, employers and the ruled. If some thing is to be done in the Mbaitoli Local Government the Chairman can instruct the Local Government public relations officer to disseminate his plans, intentions or information to his publics.
This Local Government Council came into being in the year 21st November 1991. This local government is situated at the North part of Owerri the capital of Imo State with its headquarters at Nwaorieubi. This council has a work force of two hundred and thirty two staff. The major spoken language there is Igbo language. In the words of professor Sam Black…. Public Relations 1 “The art and science of achieving harmony with the environment through mutual understanding based on truth and full information”.
The researcher found out that inadequate finance had been the major problem of this new council hence it could not meet up with the provision of some vital social amenities of its communities of Ubomiri, Mbieri and Nwaoriubi etc. The researchers found that though there were vrtes and regulations for her entire populace as well as codes of ethics to uphold, maintain and sustain her common interest and guide her towards good government, the council, I still needs. Lots of public relations strategies in order to improve and gain public acceptance, understanding as well as secure support and goodwill.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Public relations practice in the Mboitoli Local Government commenced just after the creation of this new council from its present council Mbaitoli Local Government by General Babangida’s military regime on 2s1t of November 1991.
This Mbaitoli Local Government is situated at the North part of Owerri the capital of Imo State with its Headquarter at Nwaorieubi, Imo state. The areas that make up this Mbaitoli Local Government comprise of Obamiri, Mbieri, Afara, Ifeakara, Olodo, Umunneoha, Ogoro, Nwaorieubi. It has a wide range of population over five hundred thousand inhabitants.
The council has work force of three hundred members of staff. The very language of communication there is merely Igbo language except when distraction of class is imperative or when communication is to be written down. The chairman of the Mbaitoli local Government has to be understood by his workers and constituencies, that is to means that he maintains public goodwill among his employees and the ruled.
The researchers found out that financial incapacitation of the council made its development programmes unrealistic and inconsistency in the administrative system of the council does not allow the council to embark on provision of meaningful social amenities.
- STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
“In every human society, there are rules and regulations by which people interact with themselves”. It is practically obvious that without these, there can be no peace or harmony among them since everyone cannot behave the same way. As countries and communities have rules and regulations, so is Mbaitolu Local Government Authority. This local government under study has its vrtes and regulations for her entire populace as well as code of ethics to uphold, maintain and sustain her common interest and guide her towards good governance.
It is apparently clear, based on the findings on this Local Government Authority, that public relations practice there needs lots of strategies in order to improve and gain public understanding and acceptance, as well as secure support and goodwill.
Similarly, the authority has no workable mechanism to reach her grabs root publics. It was found but that it takes weeks before information from the local government authority is disseminated to the communities, towns and villages. That is to buttress that, there is no easy flow of communication from the authority. It was equally observed that the local Government Authority does not operate open-door-policy and this is adversely affecting the administration of the local government. They have not enough fund to run the council. In this study it was observed that this authority has no full public relations office, and that public relations office of the said local government was not given the chance to discharge his duties as an expert.
Meanwhile, their information department reveals that they practice both downward and upward communication, but horizontal communication is not common at the headquarters though they practice both formal and informal communication. The problem therefore, is to find out the mode of public relations practice in local government using Mbaitoli as a case study.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
“It should be noted that public relations serves as a veritable information and communication bridge between the organization and its various internal and external publics”
On this basis it become apparent to x- ray the import and need for an effective public relations on the local government. To ascertain opinions of the community about the local government and why they have such opinion.
It is within the frame work of this research to find out the objective of the local government authority.
It is also within the preview of this research work to examine how the non-effective practice of public relations has adversely affected the impart and the performance of the local government authority in the past.
It will also bring to bare, how the performance of the information office in this local government has gravely affected public relation between the local government authority and the people
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
As one of the first in-depth studies on public relations practice in this local government , this research work will be of immense significance in many respects, most importantly this project will act as policy blue print for the effective utilization of public relations strategy in the local government. It will also as a reference material for local government administrators and workers
It is hoped that the local government authority, will use work as a theoretical frame work for the implementation of its development programmes and consequent roots of democracy
Finally, it is believed that at the end of this research work the public relations department of the local government under review will in appreciation of this work be able to find out how best to do what it to do it.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
This is designed for both internal and external public of Mabaitoli Local Government Authority.
- What are the formal public relations in this local government?
- What extent of adequate flow of communication between management and staff of the local government?
- What is the extent co-operation, goodwill and harmony between the council and the employees in the local government always make its policies know to the people of Mbaitoli Local Government?
- What is the effect on the public on the activities of the local government?
- LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 CONCEPT OF PUBLIC RELATIONS PRACTICE
Public relations practice is as old as mankind groups of people made of females and males both families and individual in the village, towns and cities working and doing things with one another form the society. In this society take Mbaitoli Local Government in Imo State as a case study, people both employees and the employers would want to work in peace among themselves and solve the problems which they have. Therefore, something is to be done in the Mbaitoli Local Government, the chairman can instruct the Local Government public relations officer to disseminate his plans, intention or information to his publics. The public relations officer may also call for a meeting with elders and youth associations in the town to explain what is to be done for the progress of their community. The meeting is geared towards making the people chiefs elders and youth associations to understand the intentions to the local government. By so doing, the chairman and the community through his public relations officer is practicing public relations.
Similarly, the chairman many co-operate with communities under the jurisdiction of his leadership to run joint Medical Centers and schools which could serve not only the interest of the employees of the local government concerned but also those of members of the local communities, awarding scholarship to selected students of the communities, organizing of special enlightenment progremmes for schools, community headers and other to educate them on the benefits arising directly or indirectly from the government of the local government and to correct any misconception which they may have. By so doing the local government is also practicing public relations and public relations is based on maintaining public goodwill. This is so because I the past changing social, political and economic climate, everyone wants to be heard, to be seen to be involved in what is happening and to succeed. This has brought about competition and rivalry in the society, in the some vein, that is why there is need to get other people to know what one is doing. This objective can only be achieved by proper application of public relations which is best defined as “the business of creating an maintaining public understanding and support through effective communications”.
During the survey, the researchers found out that there is formal public relations unit in the local government under study. It was also observed that the management and members of staff do communicate adequately. The researchers equally observed the major principle of practical public relations which anchors on ninety percent doing and ten percent taking is not workable in the council under study.
It was observed that there are rules and regulations, aims and objectives, customs, code of conduct of the council which are based on its history and social reliance. It is therefore expected that all levels of members of staff, whether the chairman or junior workers are expected to follow the council land down policy. But the most disheartening fact is that the public relations practitioners of the local government are not much interested in drying to achieve the important objectives of their profession which is maintaining and sustaining public goodwill and harmony. For much quest of money and some lapses, none, most probably is still interested to avoid occupational hazards and accurate boundary delineation.
2.2 ESSENTIAL OF PUBLIC RELATIONS PRACTICE
There are four essential requirements vital for the success of any public relations activity.
- These are firstly, the need to ensure that the message is beamed to the right target publics.
- That the most appropriate type of media is used for conveying the message.
iii. That there is a carefully planned programme spelling out what is to be done, how, when and by whom.
- That the while programme in characterized by an ii-embracing theme flowing through each activity.
That means in effect, that the public relations officer of the council should take into cognizance and should take into cognizance and above stipulated appraisal.
Government, whether military or civilian must have support and acceptance of the citizenry in order to be effective or even to survive for a reasonable period. This is because in theory and practice every government derives its legitimacy or the rights to govern from the people of citizens. It seems that the office voted in by the people of the local government to hold power influence and control on behalf of the collectivity, the masses or citizenry forget all these and operates if they can do without the support and acceptance of the citizenry. They run the council affairs as rules or pandal lords instead of leaders or servants people for whom they hold political power on trust.
Meanwhile, the researchers are contended that if practical and workable public relations strategies are enforced, the local government office holders may regain reputation of the council. The above assertion is in accordance with the pact that “a company with a clear sense of where it stands with its various public is in turn, in a sound position to capitalize on the strengths of its reputation and action to correct its weaknesses.
“The foundation of good employee relations is a sound personal policy which commits a company to providing good working conditions, pain compensation, opportunity for advancement and desirable benefits to employee”.
Obviously, an employee relation programme cannot gain the goodwill and understanding of employees of a local government which underpays, overlooks, pays favoutes and disregards the welfare of its employees. What is said to employees means nothing unless the words are supported with good personnel policy and management and competence.
2.3 HAZARDS OF GOOD PUBLIC RELATIONS PRACTICE
a lot of factors contributed to the down fall of the public relations practices, these comb a farmed the hazards which serves as a stumbling block in the phones of public relations. On the, other hand, failure to inform the publics of the council about its philosophy, policies and developments effecting their interests leads to misconception, false rumors and criticism of the local government. The effect means that the publics are not informed about matters that concern them, they make their own deductions and assumptions, which are often false on they listen to outside sources that provide in accurate information.
It should be borne in mind that the planning and execution of an employee and entire publics communication and information programme should be the responsibility of the employees of the public relations department. An employee and entire public communication prgramme should be proceeded by a survey of employees and entire public knowledge of the council to determine that workers and entire publics significant subjects. The reason for this survey is to determine what information should be communicate to employees and publics.
Research showed that it has not been quite easy for the local authority to adequately each its entire populace. But the publics relations department of this local council should know that for effective collection or dissemination of news in rural areas, the following sources are known to provide useful result.
- Traditional rulers and community leaders.
- Village priests, headmasters and town criers.
- Local government staff
- Sons of the soil who return home during festivals and holidays.
- Government extension works and social workers.
Mbaitoli local government should endavour to make sure the publics are satisfied with its activities in the sense that it could be expected to provide regular employment for young men and women from the area. Consider the local publics firs in their award of contracts, to support financially or by participation in local charitable and cultural projects and assists in the development of local schools, markets and facilities: as well as in social responsibility.
Questions of confirming the general standard of morality, sponsorship of special projects in the interest of the entire publics of the local government under study and helping to keep the environment clean prompt payment of salaries, promotions and better conditions of both the retired and current staff on one hand and co-operating with local authorities towards meeting community wide problems, particularly in the areas of construction of access roads, provision of markets building of new schools, health clinics, construction of civil centers, encouraging education through the award of scholarship to deserving students and scholars, donation of book and the like, on the other hand, and being asked for both by the local government employees and its entire public.
The public relations department of this council should intermittently look to examine all what have done to know whether there was a mistake or all was good. The public relations practitioners of this council should have at the back of their mind the codes and ethics to uphold their common interest . finally reference will be made to the Nigerian institute of public relations (NIPR) which was pounded in 1963. in the NIPR constitution, section 3, sub-section (v) made provision for a code of ethics regarded a declaration for the guidance of public relations. The code ethics states as follows: every member of the Nigerian institute of public relations shall:
- Respect the moral principles of universal declaration of Human Rights and freedom entrenched in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in his or her duties.
- Put truth and honesty of purpose before all consideration.
- Respect only interests which are not in conflict.
- Not operate any front organization.
- Co-operate with other members in upholding and enforcing this code.
Public relations shall start and end without blemish. Public relations as a management concept and as a staff function in organization has grown rapidity over the three or four decades. These growth or development came as a result of the increasing and growing insight into what motivates, individuals and groups. Gaining the support and co-operation of others through persuasion as part of day to day business of every organization be it federal government, local government, business firms, labour union, armed forces, universities and welfare agencies.
Public relations is talking to people or communicating with people. It is justifying your action with the intent of paiming peoples support. You could equate public relations with these biblical injunction, do into others what you will like them to you, or love your neighbours as you love yourself.
Public relations is an intellectual exercise but one of surprising simplicity and common sense. It is to tell a story in such a way that the listener, viewer or reader understands it within his own terms or references, patience is called for:
“Repetition is valuable but you do need to choose the language for the audience to get the score right”.
2.4 PUBLIC RELATIONS AND PROPAGANDA
It is not possible to define propaganda in the strike terms. Although various definitions of propaganda exist in the researches of propaganda exist in the researches of social psychologists and communications experts, it does not appear as is consensus is available. However, the operational definition of propaganda by Goebbles, the man who used propaganda in the most adroit manner for Hitler’s Nazi cause, suggested two seemingly incontrovertible qualities of propaganda. There are the assumption of a dependent mind on the part of the desired audience and the presentation in an argument of only the side that faviours the propagandist.
Goebbles defined propaganda as an instrument of politics a ower for social control. The function of propaganda is not essentially to covert, rather its function is to attract followers and to keep them in line. The task of propaganda, given suitable avenue, is to blanket every area of human activity so that the environment of the individual is changed o absorb the (Nazi) movement world view.
Techniques of persuasion” J.A.C. Brown – Listed right techniques of propaganda. These are: the use of stereotype terms like capitalist, Red, Negro, Jew and so on, substation, of terms with connotative expressions like the Red for the commits and capitalist for free enterprise, selection of only favourble facts or use out of a legion, downright lying and repetition. The three other techniques of propaganda according to Brown are assertion instead of arguments, naming of enemies of the cause and appears to authorities-political religious, professional or otherwise from the definitions of public Relations earlier stated it is clear that none of the attributes of propaganda mentioned in the last two paragraphs are applicable to the profession. The end-product which public relations tries to attain, which had recurred in the definitions considered so far, are goodwill, mutual understanding, voluntary support, favourable opinion, rapport and co-operation. All these coupled with the qualities of planning, substances, continuity and deliberate reach out distinguish public relations from other forms of business and communication outs such as propaganda, journalism, advertising and marketing.
2.5 PHILOSOPHY OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
The will be looking at the anatomy of public relations philosophy has been defined lexically as a critical examination of the grounds for fundamental beliefs and an analysis of the basic concepts employed in the expression of such beliefs.
In treating the subject of philosophy of public relations therefore, we shall be addressing our minds to:
- Foundational beliefs,
- Basic concepts and
- Critical analysis of beliefs and concepts.
The underlying belief and basic concept f public relations is that every organization, engaged in whatever endeavour has an environment, public relations also believes, should be conducive and peaceful to ensure continued and happy survival of that organization and the consistent achievement of its objectives. This transates to harmony between an organization and its publics.
Further still, public relations believes that all organization have a need to be socially responsible and accountable to the society it large and also the immediate community where they operate by obeying laws and regulations, contributing to polices and paying taxes as and when due. Therefore, all organizations must reach out or mutually understanding in their peopreghical areas. This is why all definitions of public relations, which are the notions, ideas and thoughts of what public relations is from the point of view of its ironers, have always centred on some constituents of the public spirit, that is, opinion, goodwill, acceptability, cooperation, understanding and others. All these are attributes of the public spirit which guarantee a good working and operational environment for any corporate body.
It is also a firm belief and basic concept of public relation the organizations have a social responsibility to contribute to the development and welfare of the communities, where they operate. In the instance, the basic exhortation of public. Relations is sensitivities. Organizations should be sensitive to the welfare of their communities and act positively about it. This is the basic reason why community relations is virile aspect of public relations practice.
Public relations also holds the belief that when an entity des the following:
- Acknowledges an environment and does all necessary t make it conducive to its operations.
- Is socially responsible to that environment in the two way described above, then it is creating for itself a good image which will guarantee the enjoyment of the constituents of the public spirit.
2.6 PURPOSE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
purpose in simple terms is an objective to be attained, an end or aim to be kept in view. So, what objectives does public relations desire to achieve? What end has it in view from its basic philosophy. At the end of the day, the attributes of the public spirit which public relations strives to create through its philosophy that is goodwill, understanding, acceptability and others, are fore-runner of:
- Organization’s survival though profit making for commercial organizations.
- Peaceful government for government.
- Achievement of the welfare of the people through the propagation of an idea for voluntary organizations – E.P: UNICEF, Planned Parenthood and others.
For commercial organizations, public relations ultimate aim is to ensure that profit is satisfactorily earned. This is done by creating an atmosphere where good image for the corporate body and its brand insurances survival. It does not contribute directly to sales as marketing. However, it does its own by situating positively in the minds of people, the corporate body, and by mental association the products of that organization.
Public relations performs the business of implanting the corporate body in the mental system, a kind of storing function. On the whole, public relations, on an idealistic notion, is the moral aspect of business, an acknowledgement of the right of society to corporate relationship and benefits, and a striving to achieve satisfaction and happiness of not only an organization’s public but other people as well.
In the critical analysis of public relations concepts, our second questions is – How does the profession intend to actualize this philosophy and achieve this purpose?
In other words, what are the contens of its armory in the achievement of its basic aims?
Public relations strives to achieve its objectives by:
- An articulation of organizational behaviour or mode of relationship between an organization and the parts of the society with which it has responsibility to relate.
All these can be described as the weapons tools or techniques of public relations practice.
2.6 PUBLICS IN PUBLIC RELATIONS
The first of the means by which public relations strives to achieve its purpose and objectives is the articulation of organizational behaviour which is the subject of this section treated under two subheadings. One is the beatification of publics while the other is the enunciation of public rations policy. Before crystallizing or articulating organizational behaviour, in organization will first of all identify the publics with which it has relate in a particular manner.
The word publics is a professional Jargon in public relations which simply put, means the segments of the population which a auricular organization has responsibility to relate or deal with. The concept of “Publics” is central to the liaison, communication and sensitivity functions of public relations because these functions have to be carried out to the benefit of a particular set of people. This particular set of people are the publics. It is also in view of the importance of this concept that practitioners and theorists of public relations have formalized publics into two divisions: external and eternal. Both terms literally explain themselves viz. internal publics are within, while external publics are outside the external publics are outside the organization.
However, for purposes of better understanding and appreciation of the concept, two other divisions based on geographical contiguity and functionality have included. These lather divisions do not excuse publics from their internal and external character. They only aid better identification in terms of geography and function. Before and in depth analysis of the geographical contiguity and functionality nature of publics, it may be pertinent to make it clear here that the attributes of internal, external, geographical contiguity and functionality are the parameters for identifying publics. That is, publics will qualify to be one to an organization from the point view of where a set of people are located and of what use or purpose they are to the organization.
All organizations intending to do business in a particular country are by law required to be incorporated or register3d in the country. This formal act imposes a territorial obligation on the company to obey the laws of the country as they relate to business activities. It also imposes a responsibility on that organization relate to all citizens of that country and especially those benefiting directly from its services. This responsibility also extends to a obligation to participate in the development of the country social and technologically. The whole country is therefore a prime public for all organizations. It is the cosmopolitan publics for all.
Habitat publics are identifiable in the immediate operation area of a organization. They will consist of state and local governments, the entire immediate community, traditional councils, opinion leaders, community development association, youth club, sports clubs and voluntary social service organizations. Effort directed at community relations are servicing pastures to the publics.
Under this heading, two publics are identifiable. They are value publics and ingredient publics.
Some segments of the society are important to an organization, solely for the purposes of favourable opinion and attitude both of which guarantee patronage. Identifiable under these are consumers, shareholders, dealers, opinion leaders, professional association and others. All these segments will need to have enough true confidence and good opinion to want to buy products of the company, invest in it and supply it with raw materials.
There are other segments of society that are important in organization by virtue of the their immediate functions and contributions. Members of these publics are necessary for the immediate operations of the organization and are in this capacity physically conceived with policy-making, daily operations, administration and production services, financial matters and regulatory statues. These publics are the Board of directors, management and staff, financial institution, governments, legislatures, government agencies and labour unions.
When a body falls under more than one group, the implication or an organization is that relating with that body should take place in both levels. For example, the government could be a habitat public by cirtue of its ability to make regulations which may affect the operations of the organization. Relating with this type of publics will therefore consist of carrying out obligations that are necessary in the area of community relations and also carrying out obligations necessary by obeying or complying with regulations of that government.
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